g's anyone?

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Brad Isbell's picture
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g's anyone?
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Typefaces are collections of individual letters, so it's OK if we occasionally fixate on the design of individual letters, right? The distinguishing characteristics of the sans letter, lacking serifs and usually being more or less monolineal, seem more striking than those of the serifed letter. How the letter is drawn, its basic shape, comes to the fore in the absence of concerns about serif shapes & directions, and stroke width. So what about lowercase sans g's. I love the eyeglass style (Gill) and don't like the Frutiger//Futura-style. Does anyone else care?

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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I think the fixation might happen because some characters are open to more interpretation than other letter.

Note: I'm not a type designer, but one test that a typeface (more often than not) has to pass for me is if I like the way my name looks. I know that is odd, but I know many typefaces that forget the double-f ligature and fail to draw a nice cap W.

Dave Bailey's picture
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There's something fun/unique about drawing lower case g's in the eyeglass style that I enjoy, in more of a display font way rather than monoweight examples like yours.

Brad Isbell's picture
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Miss Tiffany, to your last point - for signage or titling you might only consider the letters that will be used (or which will be most prominent) when choosing a typeface. The name test is good. I have a few stock phrases that I test with as well. Lowercase "g" like, lc "t", uc "M", and especially uc "R" are bellwether letters for me...

Stephen Coles's picture
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Trebuchet is sort of a mess. Here's good whacky:

Mercury

Riccardo Sartori's picture
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Stephen Coles's picture
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Handwriting fonts with double-story 'g's:
FF Duper
Falling Leaves Moon
FF Providence Sans

Nina Stössinger's picture
Joined: 19 Jun 2006 - 3:01pm
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For reference, that Ambroise "g" structure AFAIK goes back to Pierre Didot.
See this article on Typographica and also this image linked to therein.

Nina Stössinger's picture
Joined: 19 Jun 2006 - 3:01pm
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@iridiumkitten: You you might try contacting him on Flickr, and his type is on MyFonts.
http://www.flickr.com/people/arboghast/
http://www.myfonts.com/foundry/Sentinel_Type/
http://www.myfonts.com/person/James_Arboghast/

Uli Stiehl's picture
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Ingrid Asmundson's picture
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I'm on a quest for a great handwriting font that uses the looptail/eyeglasses style of lower-case g. Anyone have recommendations, or even tips for searching for such a thing? Foundries and font sites don't seem to specify this in their descriptions.

Thanks for any help!

Sahara Sjovaettir's picture
Joined: 9 Jan 2014 - 5:47am
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I know this thread is from forever ago, but I'm trying to get in contact with James Arboghast, or find his fonts.

Frode Bo Helland's picture
Joined: 26 Feb 2007 - 1:03pm
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Hard to believe no one mentioned Dez’ Froggy yet.

Craig Eliason's picture
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@ninjin Suomi Script?

Russell Goodman's picture
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Dept H, that thin weight lowercase g is lovely. Is it available at all, or any time soon?

Pablo Impallari's picture
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Always loved the g in Chesterfield by Alan Meeks
http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/chesterfield-lt/

Michel Boyer's picture
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Andrew's picture
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Lovely!

Riccardo Sartori's picture
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A groovy one from the seventies:

(actually from Alba)

Andrew's picture
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Another same structure (sesquiocular?) to magenta g in above image:

Catalog:

http://www.binnenland.ch/

Ingrid Asmundson's picture
Joined: 26 May 2010 - 2:42pm
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@Stephen Coles - these are cool, thank you!

The PDF posted by @Ulli is great... I just wish it listed which font corresponded to each number. According to http://Google's translation of a page on that site: "The PDF files there is an answer key (key number), but which is not available to the public." Bummer. I wonder why this would be secret?

Ian Hands's picture
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Some little g's from a font I am working on.

David R.'s picture
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I have spent quite some time reading this thread but it was well worth it. It is very thorough, except that it does not talk (enough) of two g designs which I favour: the sesquiocular g opening to the right & the left-facing g with a closed loop. I wanted to show two examples & this popped up on my facebook earlier on today:

from

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs553.ash1/32245_399663741508_9755756508_4026457_6738069_n.jpg

Ingrid Asmundson's picture
Joined: 26 May 2010 - 2:42pm
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@eliason - thank you! Awesome suggestion.

Anyone else know of a handwriting font with the cool little g's?

George Horton's picture
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Is Trebuchet's g Koch-inspired?

Brad Isbell's picture
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The eyeglass g is, of course, almost universal in serif printing types. The Frutiger-style g might rightly be called an italic g since it seems to come naturally in calligraphy and cursive writing. Some sans faces with eyeglass g's actually switch to the Frutiger style for italic, like ITC Johnston. Gill keeps the eyeglass for italic, and so does Trebuchet, but the Treb italic g looks really strange.

ole sørensen's picture
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i find the most unusual lower case "g" these days are in the works of hubert jocham's
recent Flow and Monday font families.

hubertjocham.de

Gabriel Lovato's picture
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Some sans faces with eyeglass g’s actually switch to the Frutiger style for italic,

They don't switch to Frutiger, they switch to cursive... kind of. :)
There was a discussion about single/double-storey g a while ago, about how English sans seemed to generally have double storey while german ones had single storey. Or something like that, I can't find it.

EDIT: Found it: http://typophile.com/node/16494

Brad Isbell's picture
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Thanks - an excellent thread. Some of the difficulty in talkng about this (and searching for info) is terminological: eyeglass, single- or double-storey (UK?) -story (US). Here's a nice page from No Bodoni which uses unicameral/bicameral as descriptives:
http://www.nobodoni.com/gstory.html

Obviously bicameral/unicameral are best used to describe alphabets. The tdc glossary has the best term for the double-story g - binocular.

James Arboghast's picture
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whacky

:^) Cool, Stephen. It looks like a pair of spectacles.

Some of the difficulty in talkng about this (and searching for info) is terminological...

eyeglass

binocular!

I've never heard the form called 'eyeglass' before, until this thread. Always known it as binocular or 'double story' g.

...most unusual lower case “g” these days...

I designed one much more unusual than Jocham's. It can be seen in use helping to spell my name at the top of this page. This font is an upcoming release.

...English sans seemed to generally have double storey while german ones had single storey.

The binocular form is foreign to German blackletters because it isn't a natural cursive form drawn with a calligraphy nib, and blackletters are essentially calligraphic. Binocular g seems to be an Italian invention, and a typographic, metal creature.

It's a hassle sometimes designing one in a font because it stands out in the context of a 'de facto' roman lower case letter set; if I replace the binocular g with a single story g some observers say the set is too modular, at the same time complaining about some other relatively minor thing being "disturbing". In context binocular g is disturbing, or would be if they weren't a widely accepted convention.

And too, a lot of type designers make a cutesy binocular g for their text roman and end up with something that ruins an otherwise well-balanced font. [Edit: this is more common in display fonts]

Despite these dim views of binocular g, I find them irresistable as most type designers do.

j a m e s

Stephen Coles's picture
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I designed one much more unusual than Jocham’s. It can be seen in use helping to spell my name at the top of this page. This font is an upcoming release.

Ah yes, James. A fourth category could be added to Brad's list then: one-and-a-half story 'g', or flat bottomed 'g'. Rian Hughes has used it a few times, such as in Regulator. And then there's his floating 'g' in Egret.

Gabriel Lovato's picture
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Some of the difficulty in talkng about this (and searching for info) is terminological: eyeglass, single- or double-storey (UK?) -story (US).
Indeed. And it's just as bad in other languages. I'm working on my graduation monograph and I had to translate some quotes from english-language books that dealt with this subject. I literally translated "single/double storey" but felt it sounded weird. Now this thread has reminded me that monocular/binocular might be better, and do sound more... respectable. :)

Obviously bicameral/unicameral are best used to describe alphabets.
But what about ones that have double-storey a and single storey g? Ah, typographic terminology is endlessly problematic... :/

Brian Meyer's picture
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Didn't Eric Gill mention something about g's and eyeglasses in his Essay? I don't think it was a positive thing. He didn't like that g's were used for eyeglasses.. been a while and I don't have the book in front of me.

James Arboghast's picture
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Rian Hughes has used it a few times, such as in Regulator.

I knew someone would mention that. This is one of those "Oh my god why does this always freaking happen!" bugbears for type designers. I thought I had come up with something truly original, then Richard and I were discussing it and he showed me Regulator. I thought, Bummer! So it goes....

I'll second "1 + a half" as the proper name for that structure.

That floating g in Egret works: sublime effect. Phantom abstraction is sublime when used with restraint, unless the designer is Novarese.

...double-storey a and single storey g...terminology is endlessly problematic.

Pertinent example. Binocular g is also called "double storey", yet a so-called single storey g is the same structure as a "double story" a.

j a m e s

James Arboghast's picture
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There’s something fun/unique about drawing lower case g’s in the eyeglass style...

They're cool because they don't conform. A binocular g stands apart from the pack, but the form is not so different that it presents problems of integration. Integrating them adds a challenge type designers enjoy, and they give a lift to what is otherwise a regimented and conformist idea---the antiqua lower case. The justification for it is like the D in Bank Gothic---it breaks the rule and is the only glyph in the main set with a true curved section. Bank Gothic needs that D because of its O. Text romans need binocular g's for a similar reason---to defeat their modularity. I guess they help readability a tiny bit too by dint of their differentiation from q.

...monocular/binocular might be better, and do sound more… respectable...

'authoritive' is the word I would use in your monograph. As you can see, I'm a nomenclature buff meself :^)

monocular/binocular

Let's not rule out 'trinocular'. A trinocular g has three bowls, the third one sitting to the right and centered on the baseline. This opens up new possibilities---why stop at two?

Q. What kind of type designers put trinocular g's in their fonts?
A. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

j a m e s

Robin Houston's picture
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I’ll second “1 + a half” as the proper name for that structure.

Sesqui(n)ocular?

Brad Isbell's picture
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More grist for the mill - Wiki (not typowiki) adds the terms open tail and loop tail, and correctly notes that the single-story open-tailed monocular miniscule of maddening mulitple moniker fame is closest to Spurius's original Roman G form.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Single Story - Monocular
Two Story - Binocular
Split-level - Hmmm

James Arboghast's picture
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First, I spelt "trinocular" wrong. Should be "tri-ocular".

Sesqui(n)ocular

Maybe. I looked up 'sesqui' in the shorter Oxford and it's Latin for one and a half. The problem with "sesquiocular" is that a one and a half story g has one oculus and a stroke down the bottom, and the stroke isn't half an oculus. See the problem? "ocular" is the problem.

Possibly the best term for this kind of g could be based on its abstract optical properties. Its like the old woman/young lady optical illusion. Look at my g and you can make out two figures in abstract silhouette: 1) A nose with spectacles in profile looking to the left. The bowl is one of the spectacle lenses and the angled piece is the nose in profile. 2) A human figure. The bowl (oculus) is the head, and the angled piece is the body, arguably female as its shaped like a Coco Channel dress from the 1960's.

So;

Coco g
Proboscis g

Come up with some more. This is an abstract naming job.

j a m e s

Brad Isbell's picture
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Regulator for those who haven't seen it:

Chris Lozos's picture
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I guess I will add my own "g" wizz to the frey. What category do these fall into?

ChrisL

Brad Isbell's picture
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Two-story open-tailed? Or maybe split-level with open floor plan...

James Arboghast's picture
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A few g animals I drew last year

Chris, I like the ear on Leporello. I opted for a similar integrated approach in Rhodaelian

j a m e s

Gustave Moíre's picture
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I think the fixation might happen because some characters are open to more interpretation than other letter.

This is very true. The letter "g" just so happens to be one of which has many variants, and in many cases may be used as a signature character by its creator. As mentioned in the original post, looking at the lower-case, italicized "p" in contrast to the "q" in Gill Sans, is another good example of a designer styling a character into a font signature.

James Arboghast's picture
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g is an opportunity letter.

Gill's italic "p" is quite common in the italics of dozens of widely-used book romans, and far from unique to Gill Sans. I wouldn't dub it a signature letter for that reason, and because it's in the italic, not the regular Gill. Eric Gill's signature letter is the Gill Sans "a".

j a m e s

Chris Lozos's picture
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"...Gill’s signature letter is the Gill Sans “a”."

That would be exactly the way I see it as well. His roman GillSans g comes to mind second. What the "a" goes through as the weight increases really tells the story.
The italic p and q just come out of the typical caligraphic style.

ChrisL

Gustave Moíre's picture
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hmm, i have never heard that before, i was always told it was the "p", i will have to look at this again.

Eric West's picture
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The 'a' does it for me too. It looks like it's got an major overbite or something.

Brad Isbell's picture
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"a major overbite"

Eric, I like to use the overbite/underbite descriptor for lc e's as well. Some e's seem to smile as well, apparently unselfconscious of their dental condition.

James Arboghast's picture
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What the “a” goes through as the weight increases really tells the story.

In the heavy weights it becomes an iconic letter design. Evidence for that view comes from the recent popularity of Gill Ultra bold for movie titles. The genre of the movies I'm thinking of is pop culture.

The calligraphic influence on Gill Sans italic, yeah, that's where all those book roman italics got their p from too.

Eric, the overbite effect comes from the robust arm extending full width to the left, a design value most type designers would never consider for a text font. We're always truncating it, probably for out of letter fit paranoia.

j a m e s

Eric West's picture
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Right on Brad.

I like happy e's.